Welcome to 2019. I hope your spring term start-up has been relatively smooth and your offices and classes are buzzing with the positive energy of a mission worth pursuing. I have a few thoughts to share with you.
1 . We have successfully hired the next vice president of academic affairs. Isis Artze-Vega will join us on Monday, February 18, 2019. She comes to us from Florida International University, where she has served as assistant vice president for teaching and learning. Dr. Artze-Vega has a wonderful background for the work we care most about at Valencia and a strong alignment to the values and mission of a learning college. Please join me and Dr. Kathleen Plinske in making her feel welcome here.
2. You may have heard that Dr. Stacey Johnson recently announced that she will retire at the end of June this year. Dr. Johnson has been a treasured member of the senior team, a thoughtful and energetic leader for East and Winter Park Campuses, a planner, a team builder and an ardent advocate for our work. Her years at Valencia have been very productive, and I will miss working with her. With that said, we honor her decision to join her husband, Rob, in a new season in their life together. We will begin a search for the next president of East and Winter Park Campuses almost immediately.
3. At the same time, we will reopen the search for president of Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses. The original search team will return. I thank you for your engagement in the process last year and for your willingness to continue working toward hiring the right leader for this demanding role. Details on the process, schedule and events associated with the search, as well as the president of East and Winter Park Campuses search, will be available very soon.
4. I am encouraged by the extensive interest and conversation within the College on the topics of equity, belonging and student outcomes. During the fall semester, we hosted more than 40 reading circles at various campus locations on three books: “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do;” “Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them;” and “Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization.” Additionally, at our October Leadership Forum meeting, we welcomed Tia McNair, vice president, Office of Diversity, Equity and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), who challenged us to think deeply about how we remove barriers to success for underserved students. We are reviewing the small group feedback that we received as part of that meeting and are drafting definitions of equity and belonging as they pertain to Valencia College. Our next step will be to share these working definitions, solicit feedback and revise to best reflect our institutional commitment to this work. We are also planning focus groups to hear directly from faculty and staff about their experiences at Valencia through an equity and belonging lens.
5. In November, Dr. Plinske, executive vice president and provost, communicated additional steps in her Provost Update, asking for participants to serve on Insight Teams to examine conditions that affect student learning and student outcomes. The College’s Learning Council identified six hypotheses (based on feasibility and impact) to explore further, and Insight Teams are working now to explore the data related to these hypotheses. These teams will bring their recommendations to our Big Meeting on Friday, February 8, 2019, at the Special Events Center on West Campus, where we will review the recommendations and determine our next steps related to the hypotheses. Stay tuned for the invitation to participate in Big Meeting.
6. Finally, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Claude Steele, author of “Whistling Vivaldi,” will be a featured presenter in the afternoon of our 2019 Learning Day on Friday, February 15, 2019. Dr. Steele will also be a keynote speaker at the Community College Conference on Learning Assessment, hosted by Valencia College on Sunday, February 17 – Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando.
My best to you for a great spring semester and my thanks to you for your commitment to doing the best for and getting the best from all of our students and community.